If all your tests come back negative, then doctors assume you’re normal. Which is hella frustrating when you’re trying to get to the bottom of your symptoms.
During my journey, I got fed up with getting bounced around from specialist to specialist. Everyone just kept saying: “oh! You’re normal!” Even though I felt like crap and had all these weird symptoms, from tingling hands to brain fog to restless sleep, many dismissed me as a “healthy young girl.” (Cause that’s really science-based, lab-tested proof).
<Insert eye roll here>
If I went to the neurologist, they would run a test and go: “looks great – you are normal.” Then, I’d see a gastroenterologist, who stated: “oh, you have celiac disease, but you look normal!” Or, if I got blood work done, the GP would say “it’s normal. You’re fine.”
And then, I started to worry:
- Maybe all of this stuff really is normal
- I’m just over-exaggerating
- Perhaps nothing is wrong at all
- Well, I’m just losing it
But, the problem was that something was actually wrong.
I mean, I don’t have a medical degree and I didn’t spend 10 years at Harvard medical school. So, for a while, I concluded that I was just wacko and reading too much WebMD, despite all my bizarre symptoms. But, I am a big believer that only you know what it’s like to live in your body. Even though most doctors ruled out most possible conditions, I still had an inkling deep in my heart that something wasn’t right.
To be honest, I just wanted a diagnosis. It didn’t even matter what it was. I was at the point where I just wanted something.
Like, c’mon. Let me figure out this already! I was tired with giving blood samples, rehashing my story and symptoms, and coming to each appointment with copies of my own medical records and blood work.
There were days when I just wanted someone to slap a name on it so I could get on with my life. I felt like saying: “just tell if it’s Crohn’s, lupus or colitis! I don’t even care at this point – just let me know what this thing is!”
Or even worse, when I couldn’t get I diagnosis, I worried that I had something really, friggin serious.
- “Why can’t doctors figure out what’s wrong with me?”
- “What kind of crazy, weird-ass disease is this?”
- “Do I have something no one knows about?”
- “Fuck, I have an undiscovered illness.:
- “Oh my god, I’m going to be the only one who has this rare, genetic, disease.”
- “Oh lord, I’m going to have to live off the grid in a glass bubble ‘cause no one will want to come in contact with me…”
Well, my imagination sure as hell had a run for its money.
So, when nothing else is working, try these tactics:
#1. Take your health into your own hands & diagnose yourself.
That’s what I did through my elimination diet – and it solved a whole bunch of problems for me. Half of my crazy symptoms were rooted in my undiscovered food sensitivities. (Yes, you read that right – food sensitivities, not allergies). Read this post to understand the difference. Turns out, that I was struggling was chronic pain, inflammation, and a lifelong autoimmune disease. (But thank god I don’t need to live in that glass bubble).
#2. Then, get educated.
I figured that if I could read up on everything (that came from a trusted functional medicine expert or western doctor I deemed as respectable) then I could figure out my own problems. And you know what? It really helped. I’ve studied as much as I can about healing the gut, understanding the microbiome, autoimmune diseases, and food. Between reading articles, taking free online courses from universities, and going through all the material at the local library, I connected the dots on my own. Plus, once I was educated on the subject matter, I could head into a doctor’s office or a naturopath clinic and push for the tests I wanted to try.
Traditional western medicine told me I had celiac disease, but on my own, I uncovered what that meant for the rest of my body, my weakened immune system, my GI tract, and my microbiome. Plus, I figured out that I have IBS and leaky gut through educating myself. (And then had it confirmed with a doctor who could link all my symptoms together). Education really is power.
Places to start your education:
Food as Medicine:
- The Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls (who beat her MS with paleo principals and organic food).
- Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.
- Kris Carr (who overcame cancer through veganism).
- Fast Food, Good Food by Dr. Andrew Weil (about anti-inflammatory food, plus recipes).
- Dr. Mark Hyman’s TEDMED talk on what functional medicine is and why we need it in the western world. He’s the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine.
Gut Health & The Microbiome:
- The Mind-Gut Connection by Dr. Emeran Mayer.
- Eat Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe.
- The uBiome blog lots of great studies on the latest work (& written in a fun, engaging way!)
- This TED talk on how your gut is your second brain by Heribert Watzke, a food scientist.
- The Autoimmune Fix by Dr. Tom O’Bryan (understanding what an autoimmune disease is, why your body attacks itself, and what you can do about it).
Natural Healing (aka Without Meds):
- The Science of Natural Healing by Dr. Mimi Guarneri (a must read!)
- 8 Weeks to Optimum Health by Dr. Andrew Weil.
- Here! The fact that you’re reading this makes you even closer to recovery. I reference loads of studies throughout my posts, ebooks, and content. So, if you’re subscibed for new post updates, you’ll be in the loop!
#3. Experiment with trial and error
I basically ran the last decade as a series of 2-week experiments to see if I could feel better with various methodologies. Eating dairy, not eating dairy, trying acupuncture, trying an infrared sauna, trying L-glutamine, not eating animal products, decreasing my chemical exposure, increasing my exercise frequency. Basically, a bazillions little things to find the combination that worked for me. You can do these on your own – or get a coach to help you.
#4. And lastly, do not fucking give up.
Do not take “no” for an answer. You are in charge of your health and you can ask that GP to refer you to any specialist, clinic, or any other doctor you want. It’s up to you to fight for yourself. And even if that GP doesn’t think it’s worthwhile for you to see a gastroenterologist and do a biopsy – ask anyways because it’s your body and your right. So, when it all feels hopeless and everyone’s dismissed your symptoms, don’t give up. It’s time to ramp it up and fight even harder for yourself.
So, have you ever felt like this?
Kelly from The Wild Manifesto